I grew up in New England, at least until the age of 8. Extended family for the most part remained, and for the last twenty years or so I have spent some vacation time each year with family on the New England coast. Now in my forties with two kids, I find myself reflecting quite a bit on where certain interests and passions come from. All it takes is a brief return to New England to realize where so much originated. I travel the roads driving from family event to tourist site to family event trying to explain this seemingly foreign culture and landscape to the kids in the back seat. I can’t help but think about my youth and what remains. I am a Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins fan, have thoroughly enjoyed the last decade or so, and feel comforted by hats and stickers everywhere. I see housing developments hidden behind forests on the outskirts of small towns and realize I think housing developments should cut down a minimum of trees and keep the ponds, roads should have bends, yards should have stone walls and hardware stores should be small and locally-owned. In the fall the forest should explode with color, and it ought to snow enough to plow. On the perimeter of Boston and Providence I adjust to aggressive driving and realize that there’s nothing wrong with using the breakdown lane at rush hour or ignoring your blinker, lest you give the guy behind you a chance to cut you off.
I grew up in a world almost void of chains. The closest McDonald’s to my house was at least 15 miles away and the closest with a playground was more than twice that far. My neighborhoods were not lined with box stores and fast food restaurants. Going out to eat called for patience and was rewarded with local creativity. Fast food meant pizza and subs, and every town had a few places to choose from. I suspect anyone my age or older anywhere in the country has memories of the world before chains took over.
|Aunt Carrie's in Narragansett, Rhode Island|